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Crayola to open family attraction in Orlando


Published:   |   Updated: July 29, 2014 at 02:14 PM

Crayon manufacturer Crayola is building a family attraction in Orlando, similar to the one it operates in its home state of Pennsylvania, and more could be on the way around the country if the new one does well.

The company said Tuesday that Crayola Experience Orlando will open next summer at The Florida Mall.

Crayola Experience Orlando will feature 25 hands-on activities in 70,000 square feet of space. One attraction will let children create their own unique crayon with a personalized wrapper. Another will let kids appear on their own coloring page.

“We definitely feel like there’s an opportunity to expand in major markets around the country,” said Crayola CEO Mike Perry in an interview before the announcement.

Crayola, a subsidiary of Kansas City, Missouri-based Hallmark Cards Inc., noted Orlando is a top family destination.

The area has three major theme park resorts — Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Re sort and SeaWorld — and many more specialty parks and attractions, some built around children’s brands, such as Legoland Florida in nearby Winter Haven.

But Perry said the attraction doesn’t expect to rely entirely on tourists for its success. Like the Easton location, Crayola expects its Orlando attraction to draw plenty of families from Central Florida.

“I think Orlando stands on its own,” Perry said. “For just the local market, that is a big enough population by far, with enough young families in that market, that it sustains itself.”

The company is private and declined to say how much it’s spending on Crayola Experience Orlando.

Crayola Experience has its origins in a single floor of interactive activities the company offered at a visitors’ center it opened in 1996 in Easton, where Crayola is headquartered. The company said the center was primarily founded as a tool to help revitalize the downtown of the eastern Pennsylvania city.

With a decision made to “ dip its paint brush into the attractions industry,” the company said, the facility was completely redesigned and re-opened in May with activities spread throughout four floors.

Crayola was launched by Edwin Binney and his cousin, C. Harold Smith, who started out in 1885 making red oxide pigments for barn paint and carbon for black automobile tires.

In 1900, they opened a mill in Easton to produce slate pencils for schools. They soon identified a market for affordable wax crayons and in 1903, Binney & Smith produced the first box of eight.

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